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Weekend Beer Reviews: Two Princes and a Frog.

This weekend was a pretty good one where beer was concerned, but when you drink as many new beers as I do, you learn to enjoy the really good beers, and let the bad beers just kind of roll off you.  Chalk it up to part of the craft beer lifestyle, you have to “kiss a lot of frogs” to get to the good stuff.

Well this weekend went better than many, where I had two really stellar brews that I wanted to share with you, and one that was good, but what took it from Prince to Frog status was the price.

Laughing Dog: 14 Dogs Barleywine.

Laughing Dog has done it again, and in a very big way with 14 Dogs Barleywine.  This 14% ABV barleywine is huge, but thanks to it spending over a year in old Elijah Craig bourbon barrels it is so mellow, and all that alcohol heat is turned into caramel and vanilla flavors with a lingering warmth that is so easy in your chest that you think you must have fallen asleep in a hot tub.

The flavor is fabulous.  It has the dark fruit flavors of many barleywines, but it also has a bit of a citrus bite on the back side to announce a bit of a hop presence.  I really don’t like barleywines that don’t have any hop presence and taste like fermented hot raisins.  This beer is so well balanced it just eases you in, and has no cloying sweetness, just great flavor and and pleasing warmth.  This is a very dangerous brew, however because you can’t feel all that alcohol and it is very easy to drink.  Princely for sure!

21st Amendment/Ninkasi Collaboration Brew: Allies Win the War

I have a secret to confess, I’ve had this beer before…a lot.  Yes, I first had this brew when it just came out several months ago, and unlike 21st amendment’s Monk’s Blood, this collaboration brew with Ninkasi Brewing has never failed to deliver…not once.

This is truly a very nice beer.  It is brewed with Dates and has a very nice sweetness, not cloying in the least, and well balanced with a big maltiness and nice hop finish.  This beer is a truly fantastic collaboration beer, but here is a little surprise, it isn’t getting a lot of love from reviewers.  I think I know why.

While this beer was truly satisfying and a nice winter brew at 8.5% ABV, it costs $3.50 for a 12 oz can.  Put this in a bottle and we don’t have an issue.  Put it in a 750 ML bottle with a cork and charge $12 for it and it is fabulous, but it is unassuming in a 12 oz aluminum can, and it gets little respect.  I know we get all jazzed about beer in cans around these parts, but this brew truly suffers from its vessel choice IMO.  I think there is still a stigma attached to beer in cans, it should be cheap, and if it isn’t it gets passed over.  Don’t make this mistake.  This is a wonderful beer and very much worth every penny of the $3.50 I paid for it.  It is a prince too.

Courage Brewing: Russian Imperial Stout

This beer was a head scratcher.  It was a good enough RIS with good maltiness, a nice mouthfeel, and a high ABV at 10%.  So far so good, right?  Well here is where I and this beer part ways.  In my opinion it was no better than the ubiquitous and relatively inexpensive Old Rasputin RIS from North Coast Brewing, but you’d think this English import was brewed for the Queen herself.  This 9.3 oz bottle ran a cool $9.00!  That’s right this brew was a dollar per ounce!  Fine if I was using it as an aftershave, but for a beer that would only last me 15 minutes at the outside?  Too rich for my blood!  This photo contains $2 worth of beer!  Let’s be fair, its flavor was good, but its price puts it squarely in frog territory for me.

How about you?  Did you have any princely beers this weekend? Or did you struggle with frogs?  Let us know below in the comments.

-Don

 

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21 Comments on “Weekend Beer Reviews: Two Princes and a Frog.”

  1. atattooedtale
    February 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

    Personally, the can is my favorite part of Allies. Didn’t care for the beer much.

    • Don
      February 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

      Really? I thought it was a great beer with really good flavor and nice to have that in a can. I think some people don’t really care for it because of the sweetness, but I personally like it very much.

  2. johnking82
    February 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Friday, I had a 2011 Twisted Pine Bough Break Barleywine while watching Contagion with the lady friend. I really wasn’t impressed with either one. I will say doing a nice run and following it up with a Barleywine equals quick booziness.

    Saturday, I helped brew Hoptimus (a DIPA) at New Albanian Brewery over the weekend and partook in their Conesmoker (smoked IPA) and then a Flat 12 IPA (delicious). pre-Van Halen concert, I had a London Balling English Barleywine from Against the Grain Brewery, a stellar beer aged in bourbon barrels.

    Sunday was the treat though because we cracked a Founders Better Half. I was quizzical the first few sips and then the maple really came out. Yes, it was good, but I’m unsure of the 15-17 price. Needs some age.

    • Don
      February 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

      Sounds like a good lineup indeed John. Was the Flat 12 a still IPA? That would be interesting. Havn’t seen the London Balling, but sounds perfect for a VH concert! I once say the original band during their Fair warning Tour I had fourth row floor seats, although I don’t think I used the seat once the concert started!

    • oliver klosoff
      February 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      Funny, I was at New Albanian Saturday after skiing at Paoli. I had the Conesmoker the previous weekend, really enjoyed it. On Saturday, I had a really awesome DIPA from People’s Brewing (?) called Hopkilla, I think. Very similar to Snakehandler by GPBC in Birmingham and that is high praise for me. I also had Pickman’s Pale Ale from New Albanian, their beers never seem to disappoint. Also got to see someone I used to work with back in Pickwick TN that now works there named Jeremy. Good guy, said he lives within walking distance of New Albanian, lucky mf’er.

  3. February 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Thanx for asking Don. As a matter of fact I asked my local liquor store owner to try ordering some Goose Island products for me to taste (a little sip of the old home town as it were.) He’d been toying w/ the idea before but hadn’t had any demand. Anway, he got me a mixed case of their IPA & 312 Wheat Ale. I tasted the IPA yesterday and thought it was pure heaven in a bottle. (InBev may own it now, but their beer is still as good as I remember it.) I’ll try the wheat tonight.

    Also, I just learned on one of the Celtic FB pages of a traditional Scottish heather beer called Froach. Its supposed to be outstanding & date back to Pictish times in Scotland, so I’m looking to try some of it right now. (I’m surprised that DFH hasn’t picked up on this one.) Have you ever tasted it? It sounds as though it may be similar in style to Duchesse De Burgogne that you & I both like.

    • Don
      February 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      Glad you like it Wayne. I haven’t tried the Froach before. Sounds like it would be right up Sam’s alley though. Especially if you have to spit in it 😉

    • February 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

      Tasted the Goose Island 312 Wheat Ale–slug bait!

  4. Timothy McGinnis
    February 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Funny you mention the Courage RIS. The head brewer was in our pub this past weekend and mentioned the beer. He also said that every bottle was shipped to the states. Good or bad, it is a shame I won’t find it over here in England. From what I hear, it is true to their original recipe.

    • Don
      February 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

      Don’t get me wrong, it was a good beer, and a bit more interesting with a higher ABV than traditionally you find from English Stouts, but for the price I have a lot of other beers I like better. If you could get it for a reasonable $ there in England, it would be well worth your time.

    • February 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

      Timothy, this is rhetorical, but I have to ask: Why in the hell wud the brewery ship all of its production to the States? Haven’t they heard of buy (and sell) locally?

      One of the great (and often bemoaned) things about craft beer is that its so often local. That means when we travel somewhere, we get to taste something I’ve never tasted before.

      • ScottG
        February 21, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

        Another question. Why send only the Courage RIS and none of their other delicious beers? I miss their Best Bitter and Directors and haven’t seen them since coming back to the States. And I’ve seen others from Wells & Young (Bombardier and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout). Seems like it wouldn’t be much trouble to throw a mixed case into the shipment every now and again.

  5. Timothy McGinnis
    February 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Well I am going to have to find a genies lamp to get a bottle of English brewed RIS here in England. FML on this one.

    • Don
      February 21, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

      You should have asked him why the decision was made to send it all over here. I think they should keep some for the locals, and ship less.

  6. February 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    I was lucky this weekend and had too many great beers to count at the Firkin Rendezvous at Bristol Brewing in Colorado Springs. The highlight of the night was a Double Dry Hopped version of Deviant Dale’s; incredibly huge and very tasty. Avery brought a New World Porter that was in-between a porter and a dark IPA, very generous with Columbus Hops.

    The only two that were let downs was Dry Dock’s Chocolate Raspberry Porter that tasted like Raspberry syrup, and Ska’s Modus Head that had a hop bag burst before tapping making it unpourable, a shame too because I was really looking forward to it. We had a bunch of other brews too, but I won’t fill up your comments, you can red more on my blog if you’re so inclined.

    • Don
      February 21, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      Sounds like a fun weekend Will. Deviant Dales sounds fantastic. Really hope we get that out here. Funny Jim ordered the Raspberry Porter when we were in Denver for GABF in ’10 and thought it was pretty good. Not stellar, but solid. Perhaps it was the year, or if you surround it with superior brews it just pales in comparison.

      • February 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

        Ahh, but Jim tends to like those sissy beers anyway. 😉

  7. February 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    14 Dogs was phenomenal. How much does Fred have left? I think Rick mentioned it was 4 years old. Love what age does to solid barleywines. This one is no exception. I’ve got mixed feelings about Allies. Good beer, I do like it. But every time I have it, I wonder if I couldn’t have found something I like better. And I almost picked up that Russian Stout recently. But I filled up a QT of Old Raspy for a few dollars less!

  8. Timothy McGinnis
    February 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    It probably all went that direction because outside of London, it is hard to find many beer drinkers who aren’t session drinkers. USA is Beer Center for big ABV. Tis is not to say there re no big beer drinkers over here but the general beer drinking public has forgotten their roots and think strong beers are an American thing.

  9. splat8391
    February 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    I had the Mikkeller/Three Floyds Boogoop buckwheat ale, which I thought was really, really wonderful. This was the first of the Mikkeller/3F collaborations that I’ve had, and I’m eager to try more. It’s difficult to find, so I ran back to the store and picked up two more bombers for a rainy day …

    I also pulled a beer that had been resting in my cellar for two years – Enigma, an English barley wine by Le Saint-Bock in Montreal. I’d almost forgotten I had the beer at all, and I know very little about the brewery. It was terrific – held up really well over time, almost reminiscent of a Port wine, not that I know much about Port. Anyway, loved it. Between Le Saint-Bock and Dieu du Ciel, I’m thinking about a trip north of the border VERY soon.

    • Don
      February 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

      Those sound great! I’m a Mikkeller fan, but they are VERY expensive in Idaho. Their Beer Geek Brunch costs north of $17 a bottle! Yikes. I may have to break down and buy one though, as I hear absolutely wonderful things about it from everyone that has had it.

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